Million-dollar man David Fifita bagged a double and sparked an avalanche of points against his former team as the Gold Coast Titans dominated Brisbane 28-16 at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night.
Fifita justified his $3.5m three-year defection from the Broncos to the Titans with a starring role in the five-tries-to-three victory that extended Brisbane's club record losing streak to 13 games.
The 21-year-old back-rower set the 17,822 crowd alight at Robina with his strong runs, often attracting three or four defenders as he overpowered the Broncos defence.
He breezed past some feeble defence to score his first try in Titans colours in the 33rd minute, a moment that turned the game from an arm wrestle into a smash-up as the Titans scored twice more before the end of the half to rack up three tries in a six-minute spree for a 22-4 half-time lead.
Fifita struck again in the 55th minute, swatting away Anthony Milford before steamrolling Jamayne Isaako to score his second try of the night.
The embarrassment became too much for Broncos coach Kevin Walters who eventually moved Milford to the other side of the field in defence, swapping him with halfback Brodie Croft, just to end his night of Fifita pain.
Match: Titans v Broncos
Round 2 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
After his club debut last week was interrupted by two days in hospital battling a leg infection, Fifita delivered the type of marquee man performance the club would come to expect with 12 runs for 136 metres and eight tackle breaks leading the way up front.
Only a HIA assessment in the 63rd minute could stop Fifita, although he returned in the final minute for a charge down typifying his never-say-die attitude.
"I felt sorry for him last week with the criticism he came under, if you'd seen the week he had you might not have been so tough but we get judged on the 80 minutes," Titans coach Justin Holbrook said.
"I'm just really happy for him. He had a really good week and then showed what he is capable of tonight.
"As I said all along he is a back-rower in the side and he just has to do his job. That's all we need from him."
Fellow high profile Titans recruit Tino Fa’asuamaleaui was dominant in the middle with 139 metres from 14 runs, while Jarrod Wallace and Jaimin Joliffe both scored close range tries straight through the Broncos goal line defence as the Gold Coast forwards outmuscled their rivals.
Holbrook said he was impressed with all of his forwards and particularly bench hooker Erin Clark who straightened them up out of dummy-half and was rewarded with a try just before half-time.
Fifita at his unstoppable best
But Holbrook wasn't too pleased with how his team played out the game, failing to go on with the result after Fifita's second try and letting the Broncos score twice late.
"I think the last 15 to 20 minutes we fumbled our way to the finish line and that's concerning," Holbrook said.
"But you know the longer I've thought about it I've calmed down about it … it's a win against our biggest rivals at our home ground so I'm really happy with everyone to come away with the win today."
If not for those six horror minutes just before half-time the Broncos would’ve been right in the game, but as has been the case for 13 games in a row they are simply incapable of swinging momentum when the chips are down.
The Broncos had enjoyed the rub of the green early on with two crucial calls falling in their favour.
Coates owns the air and Niu plants it down
Fullback AJ Brimson looked to have been tackled early by Jordan Riki in the 15th minute as he was about to catch an offload to score a try but the video referee denied the captain’s challenge appeal.
Then the Broncos' first try came exactly one tackle after a blatant knock on by Pat Carrigan was missed by referee Matt Cecchin.
The Broncos did manage to create some points. Tesi Niu scored after Xavier Coates caught a Milford bomb and their second try came when Niu was stripped of the ball by Brimson close to the line only for Coates to pick up the scraps for an easy four-pointer.
Tevita Pangai jnr barged his way over in the 78th minute for a consolation try which capped a strong performance by the front-rower.
The defeat will have Walters searching for answers as the Broncos return home to Suncorp Stadium in round three to try and open their 2021 account against Canterbury.
The Titans, meanwhile, head to Townsville to play North Queensland Cowboys next Sunday.